Are you ready for surgery?

May 1, 2013 Sean M. Wells, MD, FACS

For most folks, the idea of undergoing an operation can be a stressful and confusing time. If the thought of having a surgery is a little daunting, it may be helpful to arm yourself with some useful information.

Before any operation, you should have the opportunity to talk with your surgeon. This consultation should include an explanation of why you need a surgery, what other options are available, and what the surgery and recovery entail. All operations have risks and complications and you should learn about them as part of the decision making process.

It is often necessary to perform certain tests or studies prior to your surgery. These are for your benefit so that your surgeon has as much information about you and your situation as possible. Surgeons do not like surprises.

Make sure to follow your preoperative instructions. This is your side of the bargain after you have decided to have surgery. Following directions about medications, fasting (not eating), and other preparation for an operation is essential to making the day go as smoothly as possible.

Some other tips for the day of your surgery: know where you are going, how to get there and make sure to get there early. If you anticipate when you are going home, arrange for your ride from a family member or friend and stay with them the first night.

Recovery is as much about expectations and preparedness as healing. Knowing what to expect and following your doctor’s instructions will speed the process and make any bumps in the road less stressful. Timelines are only guidelines, so remember that your situation is unique and may require more or less time than you anticipated.

Preparation in advance, asking the right questions, and being fully informed can go a long way toward making the surgical experience a much easier one.

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